When temperatures drop, car costs can begin to rise — and those expenses can add up quickly! Here, automotive expert Lauren Fix, author of Lauren Fix’s Guide to Loving Your Car ($17.59, Amazon) and auto repair pro Chris Fix offer up their best tips for keeping your cash in your wallet through the holidays — and beyond.
Save $60 on Gas by Filling up Tires
According to the US Department of Energy, gas mileage is about 12 percent worse at 20 degrees than it is at 77 degrees. One key reason? Underinflated tires! “For every 10-degree drop in temperature, tires lose 1 to 2 pounds per square inch (psi) of air, which forces the engine to work harder to move the car along,” says Lauren. “To easily save yourself up to $60 on fill-ups from now through spring, check your tire pressure before starting your journey, and once a month, ensure they’re filled to the amount recommended in your manual or posted on the car’s inner door.”
Save $30 on Wipers by Lifting Them
Icy, wet weather is tough on wiper blades, and fully-functioning wipers are a must when traveling in wet conditions. To avoid the $30 cost of replacing them on your trip, try this simple trick: “When the forecast calls for freezing rain or snow, once parked, lift wiper blade arms straight up and away from the windshield,” advises Lauren. “This prevents them from freezing to the windshield, which makes them brittle and easily torn. Plus, it allows you to scrape the windshield without risking damage to the blades by accidentally hitting them.”
Save $100 on Headlights With Toothpaste
Reduced driving visibility from shorter, darker days and precipitation can be hazardous. But before you spend $25 a pop to replace dimmed headlights, consider this: Most illumination problems are due to oxidation and scratches that fog up the headlight’s outer plastic lens that can be easily buffed out with toothpaste, asserts Chris. Simply clean the lens with soapy water, then use an abrasive toothpaste and a towel to polish it. “This removes the oxidized, scratched plastic for a clear finish.”
Once done, wash off the paste, dry, then apply a coat of car wax to protect the lens so it stays clear as you drive.
Save $125 With a Free Battery Test
Frustrating, but true: Your car battery is more likely to die in winter as a result of cold temperatures, which make it work harder. And if it suddenly dies mid-trip, you’ll need an emergency tow, which can come with a hefty $125 (or more!) fee — on top of the cost of a new battery and installation. Prevent these pricey problems by having the battery tested before you hit the road.
Some auto parts stores, like Advance Auto Parts, offer the test for free in addition to a complimentary battery installation and a $10 gift card for recycling your old battery. Talk about a win-win!
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.
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